Monday, May 5, 2014

Activist Women visit Unity House

It's such a privilege to work with our students -- the environmental leaders of today and tomorrow! Congratulations to this year's WE Lead Student Environmental Leaders, Marina Theberge and Rebecca Zerlin! Both have made exceptional contributions to Unity College and to the larger world. They were honored at a reception and a ceremony organized by Unity's Experiential Program Coordinator, Nancy Vosburgh-Zane.

In April, our local community hosted several internationally-renowned visitors, including Dr. Lara Hansen, the 2014 WE Lead award winner.  Dr. Hansen, who served on the 2007 Nobel Prize-winning IPCC team, is currently the founding director of EcoAdapt, a non-profit organization that provides support for climate change adaptation.

We were also privileged to host a production of Kaiulani Lee's one-woman play, Can't Scare Me: The Story of Mother Jones at the UCCPA. Kaiulani is well known for her portrayal of Rachel Carson in the one-woman stage and film work, A Sense of Wonder. In both cases, Kaiulani has brought new meaning to the term "one-woman": she not only performs both roles, she researched and wrote both scripts. Kaiulani will be honored this year by the Audubon Women in Conservation for her work on A Sense of Wonder, which "reminds the audience of the monumental stature and influence of Rachel Carson, of how precious our natural world is, and of just how dramatic and difficult the challenges can be for those who stand to protect the truth."

The night before the play, Kaiulani attended a dinner with students and members of the community at Unity House. She spent much of her time talking with students. There's Marina again on the right, along with recent grad Zach Wigham, Environmental Writing major Josiah Coyle, and Summer Nay, who studies Adventure Therapy.

Community members also engaged in vigorous dialogue about a host of topics, as captured in this thoughtful moment between writing coach Kathrin Seitz and poet-activist Susie O'Keeffe.

As the semester here at Unity comes to a close, I'm reviewing final review assignments from my section of Environmental Issues and Insights. Many of the students in that section expressed gratitude for the opportunity to read Rachel Carson's seminal work, Silent Spring, because it helped them to understand current environmental debates. In the words of one student, Emilee Reynolds, "I am better able to understand the scientific side of issues like GMO foods from reading Silent Spring." As usual, I am very proud of our students' insights, and I look forward to the new generation of activist women!